THREE TIPS ON MAKING ‘HYBRID’ WORK FOR YOU

The current shift towards increased hybrid working is a transition many of us are experiencing today and will continue navigating for some time. This period of change offers an opportunity to reflect on what works best for you, re-set any unhelpful habits and behaviours, and re-prioritise how you spend your time and energy.

With the challenges of the last two years highlighting the equal importance of effectiveness and wellbeing, now is a great time to consider how best to plan your week in a way that supports both productivity and personal welfare.

Here are three practical tips to help you craft a hybrid working plan that’s right for you.

Tip 1: Protect practices that support work-life balance

The ways in which we’ve worked over the last two years have likely been quite different to our ‘normal’ patterns pre-pandemic. Some of these ways of working we’ll be glad to leave behind – like balancing team meetings with home schooling or conducing client calls from the bedroom. But there may have been benefits too – such as having greater flexibility to spend time with family or making space to exercise during the ‘traditional’ working day.

As we return to the office, it’s important that we avoid falling back into old habits that may take away the personal value that’s been gained through experimenting with different working patterns. We need to make conscious choices about how we spend our time, such as setting aside saved commuting hours on home-working days for a wellbeing activity, rather than simply extending the working day. Defining simple rituals that help the switch from home to work mode can be useful too, like using a train journey to listen to an industry podcast or even dusting off the workplace wardrobe to feel the part when in the office.

Rather than jump straight back into previous routines, pause to ask yourself the following questions when planning your ideal hybrid work-life balance:

  • How has remote working helped & hindered my work-life balance?
  • What do I miss most & least about working in the office?
  • What work-life balance improvements must I not lose when moving to hybrid working?
  • Is there anything else I can do to support my weekly wellbeing when hybrid working?

Tip 2: Conduct a personal productivity audit

When it comes to productivity, there’s no one-size-fits all hybrid working solution. That’s because the way we work is impacted by several varying factors. While some people thrive with the buzz of background noise, others prefer peace and quiet to get certain tasks done. Some of us are morning birds, while others are night owls. The home environment of a colleague with small children will be quite different to someone who lives alone. We all have varied wants and needs from our time working at home versus in the office.

General advice suggests that focused, deep work requiring sustained attention (e.g. report writing) may be best done at home, while in-person office time benefits social engagement, networking and collaboration. However, planning the right hybrid working week still requires personal choice as we are all different and work in different ways. We also need to be mindful of differences in hybrid models from one organisation to the next, which means there may be some specific workplace requirements we need to align to.

To get the best of both worlds through the hybrid model, we need to think differently about the way in which we define office and home working. Instead of seeing the office as a workplace destination, we need to view both in-person working and remote working as the different tools we need to do our job effectively (whilst protecting our wellbeing too).

Ask yourself the following questions to determine the best use of office and home working time for you:

  • Which tasks have become harder, easier, or stayed consistent while working remotely?
  • In what environment(s) do I do my best work?
  • What days / times of day do I do my best work?
  • When is it beneficial for me to be in the office / home working to support the productivity of the wider team?

Tip 3: Bring a healthy dose of flexibility to hybrid working

With any change there’s a need to be agile to evolving circumstances and responsive to continuous feedback. The shift to hybrid working is no different. At a broader level, we need to be open to on-going adaptations to our schedule based on what we learn about the hybrid approach over the coming weeks and months, both at an individual and team / organisational level. Test out new ways of working, then review and update accordingly. For example, while you may decide to focus office hours on face-to-face time with colleagues, you may also discover that certain meetings – such as catch ups with global team members – are more aligned to home working.

We also need to bring flexibility into our day-to-day hybrid working practices to make best use of the remote and office working tools it has to offer and take care of our wellbeing too. For example, if you choose to go into the office to benefit from formal and informal interactions, you also need to accept that colleagues may interrupt you when in this shared space. Working-from-home days can then be used effectively as time for more focused thinking and recognising this helps to adopt an open mindset to more fluid days in the office.

It’s important not to over-commit your time in the office to allow for spontaneous chats and ad hoc meetings, so leave a little bit of wiggle room in your diary. Likewise, avoid sensory overload (such as Zoom fatigue) when working from home by scheduling frequent breaks away from your screen. Explore time management systems such as the Pomodoro Technique, where your workday is broken down into 25-minute chunks separated by 5-minute breaks, which can really benefit both your effectiveness and your personal welfare.

Ask yourself the following questions to build the right amount of flexibility into your hybrid working week:

  • What’s worked well / less well for me during this hybrid working week?
  • In what ways could changing circumstances influence my hybrid working in coming months?
  • Where would I benefit from greater flexibility during my office and home working days?
  • What new ways of hybrid working will I commit to testing out today?

Jayne Ruff – Occupational Psychologist & Director, Changing Point

Changing Point is an organisational development and change consultancy with over 15 years’ experience supporting individuals, teams and organisations to break habits, challenge attitudes and transform behaviours.

To find out more about how we are positively challenging leaders and supporting culture evolution during today’s changes, please contact jayne@changing-point.com   

mm
Jayne Ruff Occupational Psychologist & Director at ChangingPoint For more information on ChangingPoint, please contact jayne@changing-point.com